The appetite for all types of electric vehicles (EVs) will only increase in coming years as fleet operators look for ways to simplify logistics while saving on total cost of ownership (TCO).
The demand for local deliveries has multiplied in just the last year alone, spurring a coming manufacturing boom for electric delivery vans. In 2018, there were approximately 5,000 EVs of all types in commercial fleets. That is expected to grow to about 8 million by 2030, according to research by McKinsey & Company. These market dynamics coincide with advances that make electric vans more reliable, durable, and feasible for fleet operations.
Overall, electrification is gaining clout among van-based fleets as up-front costs fall due to increased battery capacity and range. The predictable routes, duty cycles, and charging needs of light-duty delivery and service fleets are the perfect fit for the performance of electric vans.
Building Better Batteries
The average lithium-ion battery pack now holds enough charge for a 150-mile range, more than double the number of miles most commercial delivery vans drive in a day, GreenBiz reports.
Technological advances to improve charging speed and enhance battery design is a key trend in the global commercial electric vehicles market, according to TheBusinessResearchCompany.com, which found that: “The gradual decline in EV battery costs has helped to make the vehicles more affordable. The average costs of batteries have dropped from $1,000/kWh in 2010 to about $227/kWh as of 2020. This results in a drastic reduction in the overall costs associated with EVs.” BloombergNEF predicts prices will continue downward, falling to around $94/kWh by 2024, and then to $62/kWh by 2030.
Industry observers predict an estimated price parity between EVs and internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles as early as 2022, according to a Geotab report. The growing use of cheaper nickel-based battery systems to replace cobalt-based ones and the expansion of battery factories will lead to wider economies of scale that push battery costs down.
Charging Up Faster
Ultra-fast chargers, wireless charging, and battery swapping are all emerging as solutions to improve public charging, according to Geotab. These innovations are set to make EVs even more competitive with ICE vehicles by complementing home and workplace charging options.
As of Q1 2020, there were 13,627 public and workplace DC fast EVSE and 71,975 public and workplace Level 2 EVSE available in the U.S., according to Green Car Congress, citing a National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) report.
Utilities in California, for example, are investing more than $1 billion to build the charging infrastructure necessary for electric cars, trucks, vans, and buses statewide, according to TheBusinessResearchCompany.com.
Evolving Manufacturing & Materials
Manufacturers are expected to achieve carbon emissions targets in 2021 by combining electrification with lighter more advanced materials, according to a Frost & Sullivan report. Electric vehicle weights are expected to decline by about 20-25% by 2025. Gradual efficiencies derived from lighter materials will help further reduce CO2 emissions.
Frost & Sullivan reports that to achieve such reductions through 2025 the most commonly used materials for light weighting body closures and structures will be high strength (HS) steel for mainstream vehicles and aluminum for large and luxury vehicles.
Measuring with Telematics
Electrification thrives on sophisticated telematics, which will come standard on many electric vans. In addition to helping drivers and operators run the most efficient routes at the best power consumption levels, telematics will capture a continuous flow of data that will accumulate the insights needed for optimal usage.
Generating deeper data on a wider variety of EVs, including vans, will help telematics providers gain perspective on how vehicles have performed based on specific tasks. This will provide accurate metrics for use-case comparisons that will aid future forecasting and planning.
Looking Ahead: ELMS Urban Delivery Van
Fleet operators will look for those light-duty commercial electric vans that capture all of these advances in the right balance of specs and features that enable profitable operations.
The Electric Last Mile Solutions (ELMS) Inc. Class 1 Urban Delivery commercial van achieves this balance as the first electric van in its category to enter the U.S. market in 2021. The ELMS van is projected to deliver 35% in TCO savings, 60% in maintenance cost reduction, and 35% more cargo space than the Class 1 leader.
Such advantages are made possible by a van with a curb weight of 3,329 pounds, a maximum payload capacity of 2,403 pounds, 170 cubic feet of cargo space, and a range of 150 miles on one full charge. Advanced onboard and over-the-air data and telematics allow fleet managers to engage business planning and fleet tracking for optimal efficiency.